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Monday, July 31, 2006

The Assassins Gallery by David L. Robbins


Before reading The Assassins Gallery, by David L. Robbins, I was quite a bit down on reading anything new. It seems that finding a book with any level of depth or quality penmanship these days is a pursuit not too unlike eating meatloaf…shallow and pedantic. The Da Vinci Code nearly killed me. Really. I nearly bashed my head in trying to endure that…thing. That, however, is another matter. David Robbins has managed, in one book, to restore my faith and ressurrect my hunt for books (not written a century before) worth my time and effort. I've drilled through all of his previous books, loved them all, but still (due to the previously mentioned angst) approached The Assassins Gallery with a measure of trepidity. Robbins excels in crafting fiction around fact, morphing verifiable history (the actual kind, not the kind that authors make up and throw about like a child with a handful of wet noodles) into a personal stroll through aspects of the past you may not, beforehand, have given a second look. In his previous novels, Robbins took us through various moments of World War II, specifically detailing the matters involved in the Eastern Front of Europe and the quest to capture Berlin. This time, we're off the warfront, back in the States and on the chase for an assassin believed to be targeting none other than Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It's a chase against time and Mikhal Lammeck, an expert on assassins, has been given the task of hunting an assassin that has never been seen, never been confirmed, and to all in the government does not exist. From a small beach in New England to the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia, Lammeck pursues the assassin the only way possible: He has to think, act, behave like and become an assassin himself. The action is swift, hitting you squarely in the first chapter and leaving you stuck to the pages throughout. When the action brings us to the story's climax, when you've finally taken that breath you've been holding since page one, Robbins lays out the biggest gamble of them all, found in the book's final pages.

To simply say that Robbins is a skilled artisan is leaving much yet on the table. What makes The Assassins Gallery worth the read is his investment in character and research. History is a living, breathing, functioning character and is given as much respect and leeway as any character in the book. You invest yourself in them all, feel what they feel, but are left with more, historically speaking, than absorbing one of the best books of the year. You learn and grow with a history you never knew existed and that--if there were no other reason--is why you will run to tell everybody about The Assassin's Gallery.

Was there truly a plot to kill FDR? Did he really die of an aneurism at Warm Springs as history tells us? Or did the assassin succeed and alter the course of a nation's war? - Zachary Steele

Meet David L. Robbins at the Decatur Library on Thursday, August 10 at 7:15 pm. (Co-sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book).

Order a signed copy of The Assassins Gallery.

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